He served nearly two decades on the county commission and for another nine years as Superintendent of the County Road Department.
“He played a tremendous role in shaping county government,” said local radio host Coleman Walker. “George was a leader, a visionary – someone who didn’t mind telling you what he thought, whether you wanted to hear it or not.”
Sheriff Terry Ashe saw his relationship with “King George” change through the years.
“Many years ago, George and I were on the opposite sides of most issues,” Ashe said, “but it was his concern for our county employees that eventually drew us together. We grew to become really good friends. I very much respected his opinion.
“He had a presence . . . he earned, commanded and expected respect. George never had an ‘ambush agenda’ -- you always knew where he stood. That gave him credibility whenever a tough issue came up. He knew more about the inner workings of county government than anyone alive.”
Back in July of 1996, the late Dr. G. Frank Burns wrote in a column for The Wilson World, “Few have played the game as straight or as motivated for the public good. He [Harding] certainly has been one of the most active, most progressive, and most controversial figures in public affairs of the past half-century.”
Mr. Harding was a veteran of World War II, having served with the Merchant Marines. Just last week he served as Grand Marshal of the local Veterans’ Day Parade.
He was a founding member of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club, having served as Governor of the Kentucky –Tennessee District of Kiwanis International, as well as several other positions with the national organization.
It was through his early leadership of the local Kiwanis Club that he established a platform to urge city government to establish a planning commission and Little League baseball.
He served on the National Board for Little League, Inc. as well as District Representative for Little League (1958-1965).
Mr. Harding was a member of the Board and former CEO of Local Government Data Processing Corporation; a member and former chairman of the Registry of Election Finance for the State of Tennessee; a member of the Tennessee Highway Officials Certification Board; member of the board of the Highland Rim Regional Library; a 55-year member of the Lebanon Lodge # 98 Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 32nd Degree; and member of Al Menah Temple of the Shrine.
During his career, he worked for the Lebanon Woolen Mill, the State of Tennessee Highway Department, was executive secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, was director of personnel for Precision Rubber Company and was director of development for Cumberland University.
Born in Ashland City and a 1940 graduate of Nashville East High School, Mr. Harding was a member of First United Methodist Church in Lebanon. He was a graduate and a proud supporter of Cumberland University – Class of 1944.
Survivors include: sons George Henry (Brenda) Harding and James “Jim” Arnold Harding; sister Betty Lazar; grandchildren Rachel Harding (Conrad) Macaso and John (Jessica Murphy) Harding; great grandchildren Kristen Lesley, Olivia Diane and Victoria Carolyn Harding, Isabella Mae and Sophia Lourdes Macaso; step-grandchildren Jason W. (Resa Reed) Martin and Trena Martin Gassaway; step great-grandchildren Clair Elizabeth, Julia Grace and Dana Christine Martin.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Dr. George H. and Ruth Lenox Harper Harding; wives Virginia Arnold Harding and Carolyn Springer Harding; brother Albert Harding and sister Sally Schofield.
Friends served as active pallbearers. Members of the Lebanon Kiwanis Club served as honorary pallbearers. Lebanon’s Partlow Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements.
For more on Mr. Harding, please see Page 4 of the Friday, Nov. 19 edition of The Wilson Post for a guest editorial by former State Sen. Robert Rochelle.